Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Magic City (1910)

The Magic City. E. Nesbit. 1910. 212 pages. [Source: Bought]

Dare I say I have a new favorite-favorite Nesbit?! I loved, loved, LOVED The Magic City. I enjoyed The Enchanted Castle. I enjoyed it very much. But it doesn't come close to describing how I feel about The Magic City. I LOVE it so much! 

Philip, the hero, has been raised by his much older sister, Helen. When she marries a widower with a daughter, Lucy, around his own age, he is upset. He just knows that he will HATE Lucy. (It almost seems like he'd feel too guilty to hate his uncle--Helen's husband. But hating Lucy, well, it almost feels necessary.) Philip goes to his new home, and, his attitude could use some improvement. But if there is one thing that he doesn't hate about his new home is the nursery full of toys. At first, he's not allowed to touch anything--not even one toy! The nurse doesn't have permission from Lucy to allow Philip to play with her things. But the nurse in a brief moment of kindness changes her mind. Philip is allowed to play, to imagine. And he does. He builds, I believe, two wonderful cities. He builds them from toys--not just blocks, but all sorts of toys. He builds them from books. He builds with things he finds around the house. These cities are a work of an artist--a creator. But days later--I believe it is days--the nurse returns in a very bad mood. (She'd been called away for personal family business.) She is very angry. She yells. She threatens. She assures him that the cities will be torn down the very next day. By this point, his attitude has calmed down quite a bit. Most of the staff--the servants--like him if not love him now. In the middle of the night, he goes to see what his cities look like in the moonlight...and that decision changes everything. It is the beginning of the proper adventures!

I loved this one. I loved spending time with Philip and Lucy. I love how their relationship changes throughout the book. I loved meeting all the characters, or almost all the characters! I loved seeing the residents of the city. Particularly Mr. Noah and his son. The book is super-fun and just a joy to read. I loved the premise of this one too.
Philip drew a deep breath of satisfaction, went straight up to the nursery, took out all the toys, and examined every single one of them. It took him all the afternoon. The next day he looked at all the things again and longed to make something with them. He was accustomed to the joy that comes of making things. He and Helen had built many a city for the dream island out of his own two boxes of bricks and certain other things in the house — her Japanese cabinet, the dominoes and chessmen, cardboard boxes, books, the lids of kettles and teapots. But they had never had enough bricks. Lucy had enough bricks for anything. He began to build a city on the nursery table. But to build with bricks alone is poor work when you have been used to building with all sorts of other things. ‘It looks like a factory,’ said Philip discontentedly. He swept the building down and replaced the bricks in their different boxes. ‘There must be something downstairs that would come in useful,’ he told himself, ‘and she did say, “Take what you like.”’ By armfuls, two and three at a time, he carried down the boxes of bricks and the boxes of blocks, the draughts, the chessmen, and the box of dominoes. He took them into the long drawing-room where the crystal chandeliers were, and the chairs covered in brown holland — and the many long, light windows, and the cabinets and tables covered with the most interesting things. He cleared a big writing-table of such useless and unimportant objects as blotting-pad, silver inkstand, and red-backed books, and there was a clear space for his city.
And the city grew, till it covered the table. Philip, unwearied, set about to make another city on another table. This had for chief feature a great water-tower, with a fountain round its base; and now he stopped at nothing. He unhooked the crystal drops from the great chandeliers to make his fountains. This city was grander than the first. It had a grand tower made of a waste-paper basket and an astrologer’s tower that was a photograph-enlarging machine. The cities were really very beautiful. I wish I could describe them thoroughly to you. But it would take pages and pages. Besides all the things I have told of alone there were towers and turrets and grand staircases, pagodas and pavilions, canals made bright and water-like by strips of silver paper, and a lake with a boat on it. Philip put into his buildings all the things out of the doll’s house that seemed suitable. The wooden things-to-eat and dishes. The leaden tea-cups and goblets. He peopled the place with dominoes and pawns. The handsome chessmen were used for minarets. He made forts and garrisoned them with lead soldiers. He worked hard and he worked cleverly, and as the cities grew in beauty and interestingness he loved them more and more. He was happy now. There was no time to be unhappy in.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Enchanted Castle (1907)

The Enchanted Castle. E. Nesbit. 1907. 291 pages. [Source: Bought]

I really enjoyed reading The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit. I had started this one at least twice before, but, I had never been in the right mood to properly appreciate this children's fantasy novel. I was in the right mood this time.

If you enjoy adventure fantasy novels, you'll probably enjoy spending time with Jerry, Jimmy, Cathy, and Mabel. Jerry, Jimmy, and Cathy are siblings. When these three first meet Mabel, they mistake her for a princess. At the time, they are having an adventure looking for an enchanted castle. So finding a princess within that castle makes complete sense! Mabel is actually the niece of the housekeeper. She confesses that a bit later on. That first meeting is magical enough! She shows them a secret room behind a paneled wall. This room is fabulous if you're looking for treasures. While in the room, the children find (and pick up) a ring. This ring is central to all their further adventures. And Mabel is their new best friend. She's always part of the group.

This one was a very fun read. It reminded me of why I love E. Nesbit in the first place. It wasn't a perfect novel. But flaws and all, it worked well enough for me. It was a joy to read of their adventures and misadventures. The ring gets them into trouble more often than it gets them out of trouble.

Favorite quotes:
“Go then, and be not more naughty than you must.”
“If we were in a book it would be an enchanted castle — certain to be,” said Kathleen. “It is an enchanted castle,” said Gerald in hollow tones. “But there aren’t any.” Jimmy was quite positive. “How do you know? Do you think there’s nothing in the world but what you’ve seen?” His scorn was crushing.
“I think magic went out when people began to have steam-engines,” Jimmy insisted, “and newspapers, and telephones and wireless telegraphing.” “Wireless is rather like magic when you come to think of it,” said Gerald. “Oh, that sort!” Jimmy’s contempt was deep. “Perhaps there’s given up being magic because people didn’t believe in it any more,” said Kathleen. “Well, don’t let’s spoil the show with any silly old not believing,” said Gerald with decision. “I’m going to believe in magic as hard as I can. This is an enchanted garden, and that’s an enchanted castle, and I’m jolly well going to explore.
“I am so hungry!” said Jimmy. “Why didn’t you say so before?” asked Gerald bitterly. “I wasn’t before.” “Then you can’t be now. You don’t get hungry all in a minute. What’s that?”
“Well, then — a detective.” “There’s got to be something to detect before you can begin detectiving,” said Mabel. “Detectives don’t always detect things,” said Jimmy, very truly. “If I couldn’t be any other kind I’d be a baffled detective. You could be one all right, and have no end of larks just the same. Why don’t you do it?” “It’s exactly what I am going to do,” said Gerald. “We’ll go round by the police-station and see what they’ve got in the way of crimes.” They did, and read the notices on the board outside. Two dogs had been lost, a purse, and a portfolio of papers “of no value to any but the owner.” Also Houghton Grange had been broken into and a quantity of silver plate stolen. “Twenty pounds reward offered for any information that may lead to the recovery of the missing property.”
You know pretty well what Beauty and the Beast would be like acted by four children who had spent the afternoon in arranging their costumes and so had left no time for rehearsing what they had to say. Yet it delighted them, and it charmed their audience. There is a curtain, thin as gossamer, clear as glass, strong as iron, that hangs for ever between the world of magic and the world that seems to us to be real. And when once people have found one of the little weak spots in that curtain which are marked by magic rings, and amulets, and the like, almost anything may happen.And what more can any play do, even Shakespeare’s?

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

2015 Challenges: Birthday Month Reading Challenge

Host: You, Me, and a Cup of Tea
Name: 2015 Birthday Month Reading Challenge (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of Books: 12
Note to self: remember to leave links to reviews on her linkies post. 

January:
February:
March:
April:
May:
June:
July:
August:
September:
October:
November:
December:

Ideas for each month:
January
  • J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Wilkie Collins
February
  • Charles Dickens
  • Victor Hugo
  • Mo Willems
March
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Lois Lowry
April
  • Margaret Oliphant
  • Anthony Trollope
  • Beverly Cleary
  • Charlotte Bronte
  • Ngaio Marsh
May
  • Jerome K. Jerome
  • Pat Frank (Alas, Babylon)
  • Arthur Conan Doyle
June
  • Dorothy Sayers
  • Thomas Hardy
July
  • Josephine Tey
  • Erle Stanley Gardner
  • Candice F. Ransom
  • Joan Bauer
August
  •  Georgette Heyer
  • Orson Scott Card
  • E. Nesbit
  • Kenneth Oppel
  • Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
  • P.L. Travers
  • Diana Wynne Jones
September
  • Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Agatha Christie
  • Roald Dahl
  • Gail Carson Levine

October
  • Julie Andrews Edwards
  • Karen Cushman
  • Lois Lensky
  • Shel Silverstein
  • Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
  • Katherine Paterson
November
  • C.S. Lewis
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Astrid Lindgren
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Mark Twain
  • George Eliot
  • L.M. Montgomery
  • Louisa May Alcott
  • Neal Shusterman
December
  • Avi
  • Carol Ryrie Brink
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Mercer Mayer
  • Rex Stout
  • George MacDonald

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2015 Challenges: Hard Core Re-reading Challenge

Host: You, Me, and a Cup of Tea
Name: Hard Core Rereading Challenge (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2015 (books started before January do not count)
# of Books: Level 5; 50+ Rereading Coma
Note to self: check back to see about review linkies. MUST, MUST, MUST add links to reviews to the linkies.

What I (Actually) Reread
1.
2.
3.

What I Plan On Rereading: 

Georgette Heyer Novels I Want To Reread in 2015:
  1. Devil's Cub
  2. These Old Shades
  3. Frederica
  4. Venetia
  5. Civil Contract
  6. Sprig Muslin
  7. Black Sheep
  8. Masqueraders
  9. Cousin Kate
  10. Convenient Marriage
  11. False Colors
  12. Talisman Ring
Elizabeth Gaskell Novels I Want to Reread in 2015:
  1. Ruth
  2. Wives and Daughters
  3. North and South 
Anthony Trollope Novels I Want To Reread in 2015:
  1. Lady Anna
  2. He Knew He Was Right
  3. Belton Estate
Charles Dickens Novels I Want to Reread in 2015:
  1. Our Mutual Friend
  2. Bleak House
  3. Oliver Twist
Wilkie Collins Novels I Want To Reread in 2015:
  1. Woman in White
  2. Armadale
  3. Man and Wife
Mystery Novels I Want To Reread in 2015:
  1. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
  2. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
  3. Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout
  4. The Golden Spiders by Rex Stout
  5. Have His Carcase by Dorothy Sayers
  6. Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers
  7. The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers
  8. Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers
  9. Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers
Historical Novels I Want to Reread
  1. Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman
  2. London by Edward Rutherfurd
  3. Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd
  4. Gone with The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Science Fiction Novels I Want To Reread in 2015
  1. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
  2. Worthing Saga by Orson Scott Card
  3. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  4. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
  5. Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  6. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  7. Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov
  8. Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov 
  9. Babylon 5: To Dream in the City of Sorrow by Kathryn M. Drennan
  10. Babylon 5: The Shadow Within by Jeanne Cavelos
  11. Bablyon 5: In the Beginning by Peter David
  12. Babylon 5: Legions of Fire: The Long Night of Centauri Prime by Peter David
  13. Babylon 5: Legions of Fire: Armies of Light and Dark by Peter David
  14. Babylon 5: Legions of Fire: Out of the Darkness by Peter David 
  15. Wool by Hugh Howey
  16. Shift by Hugh Howey
Fantasy Novels I Want to Reread in 2015
  1. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  3. The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan
  4. The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan
  5. The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  6. The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan
  7. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan
  8. A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
  9. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Children's Novels I Want to Reread in 2015 (I'm sure I'll be adding *more* to the list.)
  1. Welcome to the Grand View, Hannah by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
  2. You're the Best, Hannah by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
  3. Love From Your Friend, Hannah by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
Dr. Seuss Books I Want to Reread in 2015
  1. 1937 -- And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street
  2. 1938 -- The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
  3. 1939 -- The King's Stilts
  4. 1940 -- Horton Hatches An Egg
  5. 1947 -- McElligot's Pool
  6. 1948 -- Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose
  7. 1949 -- Bartholomew and the OObleck
  8. 1950 -- If I Ran The Zoo
  9. 1953 -- Scrambled Eggs Super
  10. 1954 -- Horton Hears a Who
  11. 1955 -- On Beyond a Zebra
  12. 1956 -- If I Ran the Circus
  13. 1957 -- How The Grinch Stole Christmas
  14. 1957 -- The Cat in the Hat
  15. 1958 -- The Cat In the Hat Comes Back
  16. 1958 -- Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories
  17. 1959 -- Happy Birthday to You
  18. 1960 -- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
  19. 1960 -- Green Eggs and Ham
  20. 1961 -- The Sneetches and Other Stories
  21. 1961 -- Ten Apples Up On Top (Theo LeSieg)
  22. 1962 -- Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book
  23. 1963 -- Dr. Seuss's ABC
  24. 1963 -- Hop On Pop
  25. 1965 -- Fox in Socks
  26. 1965 -- I Wish That I Had Duck Feet (Theo LeSieg)
  27. 1965 -- I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew
  28. 1968 -- The Foot Book
  29. 1969 -- I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today and Other Stories
  30. 1970  -- Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?
  31. 1971 -- The Lorax
  32. 1972 -- Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now
  33. 1972 -- In A People House (Theo LeSieg)
  34. 1973 -- Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are
  35. 1974 -- There's A Wocket in My Pocket
  36. 1974 -- Great Day for Up
  37. 1974 -- Wacky Wednesday (Theo LeSieg)
  38. 1975 -- Oh, The Thinks YOu Can Think!
  39. 1975 -- Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo (Rosetta Stone)
  40. 1975 -- Would You Rather Be A Bull Frog (Theo LeSieg)
  41. 1976 -- Hooper Humperdink…? Not Him (Theo LeSieg)
  42. 1977 -- Please Try to Remember the first of Octember (Theo LeSieg)
  43. 1978 -- I Can Read With My Eyes Shut
  44. 1979 -- Oh Say Can You Say
  45. 1980 -- Maybe You Should Fly A Jet (Theo LeSieg)
  46. 1981 -- The Tooth Book (Theo LeSieg)
  47. 1982 -- Hunches in Bunches
  48. 1984 -- The Butter Battle Book
  49. 1986 -- You're Only Old Once
  50. 1987 -- I Am Not Going To Get UP Today
  51. 1990 -- Oh, The Places You'll Go
  52. 1995 -- Daisy-Head Mayzie
  53. 1996 -- My Many Colored Days
  54. 1998 -- Hooray for Diffendoofer Day
  55. 2011 -- The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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What's On Your Nightstand (November)


The folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand? the fourth Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.

Reviews Coming Soon...in December...

Brown Girl Dreaming. Jacqueline Woodson

Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James

Princess in Black by Shannon Hale
Recently finished:

Tolkien: How An Obscure Oxford Professor Wrote the Hobbit and Became the Most Beloved Author of the Century. Devin Brown. Abingdon Press. 145 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I'll be reviewing this one at Operation Actually Read Bible this week or next. It was WONDERFUL.

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell. Review will be coming in January. (Yes, I'm all booked up for December already, at least at Becky's Book Reviews.)

 Operation Bunny (Wings & Co. #1) Sally Gardner. Review will be coming in January.

Sleep In Peace Tonight. James MacManus. Review will be in January.

Currently Reading:

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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